Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi says the country’s lack of star power will not work against them at Euro 2016.
The Azzurri have not won the European Championship since 1968, but victories over Belgium and Sweden have given them a solid foundation on which to build in France.
Antonio Conte’s men round off Group E against Republic of Ireland in Lille on Wednesday, with Spain the only other side still boasting a 100 per cent record.
And while De Rossi concedes Italy currently lack a truly global superstar, he believes they possess one of the most balanced squads in world football.
“You need to be balanced when judging a team negatively or positively,” he said. “We are a team without that eye-catching star.
“We don’t boast an [Eden] Hazard – and I mention him as he was the first we came across – or [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic. They are worldwide known stars.
“But we have other skills that many better teams in this very moment don’t have. We are one, we are a team. A group that comes to life in terms of bench depth.
“Many teams field stars but there is a big gap between this star and his replacement. In Italy there is a big balance between he who plays and he who sits in the bench.”
Coach Conte will depart Italy for Chelsea at the end of Euro 2016, but De Rossi insists the players have not given his departure any thought.
“We don’t miss him yet. On the contrary. He is so present and with us that we never could be nostalgic for him,” he added.
“We don’t care about his future. We knew it even before this adventure kicked off. We know this will be his last tournament with Italy.
“I would have been surprised if Conte had stayed many more years in the national team. He is an animal for the pitch [he was born to coach daily].”
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